Creative and nonfiction writing are an important part of what we wish to promote and represent here at Two Drops of Ink. Today I want to promote the genre of Memoir. This is an excerpt from ‘Twisted Ride: A bikers Memoir.’ The names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved in the memoir. The great question about memoir is what to leave out of the story rather than what to leave in. Memoir can be the story of a week in ones life or several years; however, it is not meant to be biographical. Memoir has a fantastic array of possibilities in terms of its depth and scope or subject matter. Everyone has a great memoir inside them because each of us has unique and interesting stories or experiences that others need or want to hear about. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
They Died in Vain
The Ohio summer day was warm and a mild breeze pushed gentle waves across the grain fields next to the farm. A young boy, sitting at the foot of a large Oak tree, waited for the bikes. He was filled with excitement. To him, they were modern day Vikings; their hair and long beards flowed in the wind, forced upon them by the speed of their iron steeds.
Shimmering mirages floated off the gravel and tar road leading to the farm. The boy stared as the pack crested the slight hill and roared down the long road leading to the farm. In perfect formation, side by side, the motorcycles appeared. He loved the thunder of the pack. In his young mind, it sounded like God was coming.
The “Farm” was the clubhouse for The Jackals MC. They were a “bitch” club (aka a small support club) to the Hells Devils MC Cleveland, Ohio chapter. The Jackals MC were the feet and hands of the Hells Devils in Grafton, Ohio. The Farm was tucked away deep in the Ohio farming district outside the suburbs of Cleveland. The two clubs met there often to party and discuss business. As a young boy, I was at the Farm quite a bit because my mother dated a full patch member of the Jackals named Wade. Wade would often come in and when our eyes met, there would be a slight nod or nothing at all. Sometimes wade would look at me, saying nothing, and throw me a quarter. I would dash out the door to the local corner market to get some candy. He stayed at our house, parked his Harley in the kitchen to keep it out of the weather, and I stole his cigarettes when I had a chance. That was the extent of our relationship. I was just the annoying kid whose mother he was sleeping with.
Kickstart and Itzy were leaders in the Jackals MC. Kickstart was the chapter President and Itzy, his younger brother, the Sargent at Arms. Kickstart had a foul nature. His eyes had no pupils. They were just black…like black onyx stones embedded deep in a windblown, stone face. He kicked me like a dog when I happened to step in his way or sat in the wrong seat around the clubhouse. I hated Kickstart and Itzy. My mother took me there because of wade and often left me unattended. The clubs would have smashup derbies, they would shoot their guns, and sometimes they`d blow stuff up with dynamite. I loved to hear the explosions and watch cars, trees, and old debris fly through the air; surely no other kids had fireworks like I had at the farm. I loved the farm and I hated it. It was duplicitous, sometimes it brought me great pleasure and fun and other times I was scared, alone, and hurt by men I didn`t even know.
In spite of all this, I loved the Hells Devils; they were a sight to behold: powerful, organized, fearsome, and no one dared to disrespect them. In the shadowy subculture of the motorcycle clubs, the Hells Devils were the most feared and respected club, worldwide. Their reach was far and wide like the tentacles of an enormous sea monster. No one could escape their wrath if provoked. Like Al Capone, they had a network of judges, lawyers, police officers, and even the secretaries of important politicians on the payroll. I loved to see them roll into the farm when they came to visit.
There I sat that morning, under the large Oak tree, waiting to see the Hells Devils ride in. I loved to race them on foot to the Farm. I began to hear the rumble of the pack in the distance. As they crested the hill, I readied myself, crouching in a starting position like a sprinter in the Olympic Games. As they reached my position, I took off running. The bikes reverberated roars that shook the ground I was standing on as they exploded past me. Each bike, like its owner, was distinct. Some of the bikes had ape hanger handle bars and upsweep exhaust pipes, others were painted with life-like custom flames, and still others looked like old relics that were barely able to roam the highways. The bikes pulling into the Farm in perfect unison and began circling around to park. Each bike was backed in, next to the other, like a giant mechanical snake that uncoiled with precision accuracy. These were true bikers, outlaws, one-percenters—the top of a cold-blooded food chain.
I knew the rules of conduct that were expected in the motorcycle club world. Women and children were seen and not heard. I stood back, out of the way, until the two clubs conducted their formal greetings. Chains was the Hells Devils President and he and Kickstart would greet first—this was protocol. No other member from either side would greet until these two men hugged one another. As they hugged they exchanged slaps on the back and ended with the thumbs-up, gripping handshake of the biker world. The party was on and the bikers began rowdily intermingling as each club member greeted old friends among the ranks. I approached cautiously so I could study my heroes. Having no father in my life, these men were giants to me. They embodied the quintessential man. I wanted to be like them, and someday I would…to my regret.
Chains introduced his Sargent-at-Arms, a man named Bear, to Kickstart.
“Ever drank any shine brother?” Bear asked with a challenging smile as he lifted a mason jar of Moonshine up to Kickstart.
“Don`t believe I have,” Kickstart answered as he snatched the jar away from Bear.
Everything in this world has meaning. These men lived outside the societal mores of America in every way. They were desperados, modern day Pirates, and they reveled in the testosterone filed world in which they lived. Challenges of manhood—seemingly infantile to normal society—were the norm. No one could ignore a challenge in their world—it was considered a sign of weakness. Weakness could lead to death.
Kickstart turned up the jar and took a long drink. Suddenly, he spewed the clear liquid out of his mouth like a man that had mistakenly drank gasoline. There he was, bent over with his hands on his knees, vomiting and coughing like a sick dog. All the bikers started laughing and slapping one another on the back. Kickstart’s face looked like a large mouth bass that had a hook in its mouth and his eyes bulged like a bullfrog as he continued to spew the Moonshine out. I started to laugh and then couldn’t stop. I laughed and laughed and laughed until suddenly I realized I was the only one laughing. Slowly, as I looked up, all the bikers were staring at me. It was a huge mistake. I had laughed at a full patch member—a President no less. The moment lasted a millennium. There I was looking at Kickstart and he looked back at me, his eyes filled with rage.
“What the hell are you laughing at you rug-rat?” He screamed as he lunged toward me. I reacted instinctively, kicking him in the groin. As Kickstart fell to his knees coiled in the fetal position, Itzy grabbed me by the shirt and reached back to hit me. In spite of my fear of these men, the darkness of their souls, the blackness within their eyes somehow filled me with eager curiosity and a warped sense of respect.
“STOP” a voice yelled. It was Chains. “Leave the kid alone. I like him. He`s got balls.”
Itzy stared into my eyes. I knew he would not forget and that I would soon pay in full. Little did we both know at that time that I would one day become just like the man I thought I hated. Itzy was right, I did pay my price—in blood.
The parking lot was quiet and only a few customers were strolling about as the midnight hour approached. A van slowly pulled up to the gas pumps and as the door slide open on the side a couple guys piled out to stretch. We looked to see if it was them. We weren’t sure because they had no colors on. We were all next to our truck drinking coffee and eating some snacks. We were waiting and watching. Hoping to see a lone rider from the rival club. We needed a set of colors to negotiate with. They had a set of ours and we needed to get a set of theirs—that’s how it works in the clubs.
Three of the men began to walk toward the store. Suddenly, when they saw us, they turned back toward their van. They all put on their colors and turned back to walk to the store again.
“Boss…we better move now before they call for reinforcements,” one of the brothers said to me.
My heart beat filled my throat. Everything was moving in slow motion as a bead of sweat began to run down my chin. The decision was all mine. I stared across the parking lot as the men strolled confidently onward, almost mocking us. I looked into the eyes of my brothers—each waiting to hear the word. My mind played out the event. A fist fight. We would win. We would have our colors and return to Kentucky. It was all so simple. We had them right where we wanted them.
“Let`s go,” I said as I started across the parking lot to meet the enemy. I would lead. As I approached the three men, one of them took a swing at me. I hit the one to my right with a right hook knocking him completely down. The second man jumped back into a fighting stance like he knew karate. The third man ran. As the second man and I circled one another, each awaiting the others attack, the man I had knocked out was suddenly on my pant leg pulling himself up. I kicked him in the face and again knocked him out. The other man ran toward me. I had a ball peen hammer in my back pocket and I grabbed it just in time to sink it into his ribs—he was done. He lay at my feet in a fetal position, moaning. In all the commotion I wasn`t sure what was going on, who was fighting who, and where all my brothers had gone. Suddenly, shots rang out.
I had never been shot at before in my life. I`d had guns stuck to my face, the back of my head, and had been in rooms where I was surrounded by gunmen but I had never been shot at before. No one can say what they will do when bullets begin to ricochet of the ground at your feet and wiz by your head. As adrenalin filled my veins like an explosive fuel, I squatted down to take cover. I heard screaming and glass shattering. As I ran in an almost dream-like state, I saw a black lady laying down in her car—caught in the crossfire—as the windows in her car exploded into a million pieces. I had to find cover. I was exposed and bullets were flying everywhere. As I ran toward the truck I saw one of my brothers fighting a huge man from the rival club. He was losing. We were all losing. A darkness fell over me that left me mentally crippled—I couldn`t think.
I made it to the other side of the truck and stared at the scene through its windows. One brother lay in a puddle of blood. The others were outnumbered as another van had pulled up with more rival club members—we were doomed. All I could do was stare. Like some combat veteran that had made his way off the front line and dared not tell anyone he couldn`t go back. There was no more will to fight. Finally, I saw the thing that would haunt my nights and days for years to come. I saw one of the brothers that had come to help me fight off the men in my initial battle. In all the confusion, in the frightening haste to find cover from the gun fire, I had not noticed he was there still fighting. Then I saw it. As he was fighting one man, another approached from the side, stuck a gun to his belly at point blank range, and fired three shots.
I was frozen in time. I could no longer hear the approaching sirens, the gunfire, the screams—all I could do was watch as my brother lurched in pain, buckled, and fell to the ground. At that point I ran as fast as I could to get out of the area and find a way home. It all went wrong. I was on instinct alone.
My brothers were interrogated for over 14 hours but no charges were filed because no one would talk from either side and no one could prove who fired the shots. The laws in Arizona on self-defense are very liberal and it seemed to the cops that this was a clear self-defense case but no one could confirm or deny anything. There were over 40 shots fired at the scene, one stabbing, and one man with multiple broken ribs. No one was ever charged in the shootings. I don`t think anyone really cared. Just another case of biker trash killing one another in the streets. Just another cold case file.
“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
(S.W. Biddulph, 2014)